Showing posts from May, 2011

Montana's Flooding, By The Way

Up here, we tend to say "crick" instead of "creek."  Well, there are cricks where there have never been cricks before.

The school at which I teach is comprised of four different communities.  One of those communities flooded badly on Sunday, and I thought, "Wow.  I guess it doesn't get much worse."  Shut the #)%* up, Scooter.

Today, the biggest city in Montana was hit with torrential rainfall like nothing ever seen.  The manhole covers were blown clean off of the sewers.  My house on the outskirts of town is flooded with water from my septic field, as is most of my block in one way or another.  We managed to get my son to his grandparents' house out of town just before the irrigation canal burst and flooded everything a block north of us.  Both routes out of my dead-end street are now blocked by high volumes of water.

I was devastated by the water in my basement at first, but now I'm feeling fortunate after I saw happen to those around me. …

Update: Speculative Fiction is Science's Medicine Man

Two weeks ago I wrote a post regarding the relationship between speculative fiction and science.  In it I used Gene Rodenberry as a prime example of "boldly going where no man has gone before."

Today I ran into a letter written by Gene Rodenberry regarding the very same subject.  He says, "The links between science fiction and science are well established and I am very pleased to associate myself with the Planetary Society."

Click on the link and read the letter in its entirety.  Not all of his scientific predictions came true, but he was a visionary, that's for sure.

FIRE-Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

I follow FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, very closely.  FIRE is a private foundation dedicated to ensuring the rights of all higher education students, regardless of a student's ideological mindset.  They tackle colleges and universities that do away with the right to due process or the right of free speech.

I believe it's important for writers to support such organizations because student writers are often the targets of censorship.  Check out their website and learn about the battles being waged in higher education.

Hey There, Sulu!

So, I lucked out and got a personal message from George Takei on Twitter.  Wooo hooo!  My inner Trekkie is enormously pleased.

*Ridiculously Happy Dancing*

The Author's Guide to Psychopaths-Behavior

It's been a while since the last psychopathy post, so let's review some facts.

Psychopathy is a personality disorder.  It is characterized by very predictable personality traits that can be  measured by a trained professional.  Psychopaths are born, not made, though environmental factors shape how the disorder is expressed.  Psychopaths are perennially popular characters in all sorts of fiction, but authors often incorporate common myths about psychopaths.

Today, we're looking at psychopathic behavior.  Let me make something very clear.  Finding these characteristics in yourself or others does not a psychopath make, young Padawan.  It is incredibly tempting to want to diagnose those around you as a psychopath, probably because everyone has some of these qualities to some degree.  The psychopath has most or all of these characteristics to such an extent that it has to be seen to be believed.
Think of it this way.  One of the characteristics of a psychopath is the inab…

Speculative Fiction Is Science's Medicine Man

When I was taking my upper level sociology courses, I remember a story my professor told about a Native American divination practice.***  When game was scarce, the medicine man would throw a deer's scapula in the fire until it cracked.  The medicine man would then read the cracks, interpret them, and then tell the hunters where to find game.

The funny thing about this method of divination is that it actually worked, and not because the medicine man was a charlatan that already knew where the game had gone.  Humans are creatures of habit, mostly due to operant conditioning.  If we find a great little fishing hole and catch a large number of fish, we tend to return to the same area over and over, even if the fishing's never that good again.

When the medicine man read the cracks and sent the hunters to different areas, it introduced variety into the hunters' search patterns and thus broke the hold operant conditioning had on them.  Did they always find new game?  No, b…